Thursday, December 21, 2006

Beautiful Manistee

After leaving Chicago, we went to Manistee, MI. For those who are not familiar with our state, Manistee is a Victorian port city on Lake Michigan, between Ludington and Traverse City. According to the Cities Unlimited web site the population of Manistee is similar to Davison, but Manistee is bigger, older, and tourist-oriented. We drove through on our way home from Traverse City in early Oct. and wanted to go back and explore this pretty little town.

We enjoyed the downtown stores and I was especially delighted with the Manistee County Historical Museum. It's in an old store front and is remniscient of an old-fashioned general store, only better! Here's a map, and picture of the building, and a link to their impressive genealogy collection.

The entrance fee is only $2 and you can wander around by yourself, or a volunteer will show you the exhibits. A nice man showed us around and I was glad because he told us a lot about the special Christmas exhibits. The Christmas exhibits are so popular that the museum's busiest months are July, August, and December.

The main room, which looks like a general store, featured a Victorian Christmas tree. The oil lights had been converted to electric but there were still some (unlit) clip-on candles to convey the sense of what the original tree looked like. In keeping with the German tradition, the full-sized tree was sitting on table:

Under the tree is the "putz" or Christmas Garden which features the Nativity:

In America we changed the tradition: we put the tree on the floor and updated the village to reflect a Victorian or modern look, often with trains:

I never knew that this German tradition was the origin of our ceramic Christmas village!

After visiting the museum we had a delicious Italian lunch at the Tuscan Grille, then visited one of the downtown antique stores before driving home. It was a nice getaway but we were tired and glad to get home, where our cats were very glad to see us (despite good care from their human grandparents).

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